Welcome to The Writer's Challenge

I'm updating weekly-ish and whenever something exciting happens, so please come back often, browse the archived information,
and use the search feature to find information!
Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Signed with a Literary Agent!!

March 2014 UPDATE: 
This wonderful agent sold 7 books for me in our three years (including the one I queried her about, to Simon & Schuster Pocket). We have recently parted ways amicably.

Okay, now you can read the post, because it's still relevant if you're interested in how authors get agents ;)

November 2011:
Hello Fellow Writers,

Let me start by saying OMG. OMG.

Okay, so here's what happened.... last month I went to a NJ RWA meeting where they were having a panel of agents and editors talking. The whole thing was fascinating, and I ended up being late to the group buffet lunch that they had going on after.

What's that you say? Irrelevant? No. Here's why. By the time I got downstairs, every table was full, except for one seat next the lovely Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J Greenburger Associates. That's the agency that represents Dan Brown of The Da Vinci Code fame. Ya know, no big deal.

So we spent lunch chatting about our toddlers etcetera, and at the end of the day I asked if I could query her. No pitch, just if she wouldn't mind if I emailed her a pitch.

The next day I think she requested the full and followed me on Twitter. (she's @millercallihan if you want to follow her too!)

A few weeks went by, and she @ replied me on Twitter saying she was loving my manuscript and would get back to me ASAP.

I called all my friends and asked what they thought ASAP meant in literary-agent speak. Ten seconds? Ten days? Ten weeks?

Shoshanna Evers and literary agent Courtney Miller-Callihan
of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.
A couple weeks later she emailed to set up a time to call, but there was no offer or anything, so I still wasn't sure what that meant. Did it mean she wanted to call and tell me she loved the manuscript but NY would never buy it because it was too gritty/weird, as so many other agents (four) had said?

I told her I'd be signing cover flats at the Ellora's Cave booth at the Book Expo the following day if she wanted to stop by and say hi. Sorry, this story is getting really long, but I'm always interested in how other people got their agent, so that's why I'm telling it like this.

She did, but neither of us had time to chat since she was busy being an agent and I was busy being an author. So when I was done signing, we went and got lunch and talked about the toddlers again and then SHE OFFERED TO REPRESENT MY BOOK!

And that's how it went. I'm thrilled, naturally. The book in question is a post-apocalyptic romance, sort of dystopia meets erotica, and I wrote it during NaNoWriMo.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Writing in Different Genres: Erotica & Children's Books - Jennifer Probst

Hello Fellow Writers!
We have a guest blog today from Jennifer Probst, a multi-pubbed romance author and children's book author, who is both traditionally published and self-published, and is rocking both markets!


By Jennifer Probst

I’m a romance writer. And damn proud of it. I’ve always known I’d write romance novels, and when ignorant people would question whether I would write a “real” book one day, I’d launch into my tirade armed with facts about the romance market. It took me years before I made my first sale to a print on demand publisher. It wasn’t my first choice, but my best choice at the time. Sales were dim, but I made a name for myself and learned a lot.

My second book was better suited to the erotic romance market. Red Sage was an up and coming publisher and I was thrilled when they bought my novella, “Masquerade” for Secrets Volume 11. Then life took hold and I got married, bought a house, had a baby, then had another one. My writing focus switched to papers for my master’s in English literature, and parenting stories regarding the journey in motherhood. When things settled, I got back to my first love of romance and sold another novella to Red Sage, “The Tantric Principle.”
But something else happened along the way.

My niece told me this wonderful story about a rabbit named Buffy who fell in love with a carrot. My boys begged to hear it over and over again, and something sparked within me. I felt the story could do well as a book. I believed in it, and wanted to encourage my niece to pursue her dreams and let nothing stop her. We sat together and I drafted the story, changing it for publication. Then we drafted ideas for the illustrations and recruited a family friend to do the pictures. We edited until it was perfect. Buffy and the Carrot was born.
Then I sent it out.

I knew the romance market well, but had never researched the children’s market. I found it a bit difficult without a prior track record or an agent. I made a detailed list and forwarded the story to numerous publishers. Then received multiple rejections.

But I believed in this story. Enough that I decided to take a chance on an alternate route. I wasn’t interested in publishing an e-book. But a company called Strategic Marketing peaked my interest so I sent them a query.
They offered a joint venture contract. This means, they split the cost of the book with me 50/50. That way, I also got 50% royalties. Their traditional publishing contract offers no payments up front, but only limited royalties on the book. If I sold 1000 copies, I’d automatically be placed in another tier and would never have to pay for them to publish my book again. In other words, I needed to prove myself by sales first.
I spoke with my brother and we decided to split the cost and give it a try.

Benefits? You don’t have to figure out how to do anything. You submit your edited text, your illustrations, and they take care of the rest. They get you a cover. They do the back cover. They do the setting and the printing. They give you your own author webpage for sales (see mine here)

They give you a specialized royalty site so you can track your book and get your royalty checks every quarter. They get you on Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com. They give you free marketing tips, and offer press releases. They have a huge marketing program you can take advantage of – but most of it costs extra. You can pick and choose what you’d like to participate in, including book expos in other countries. They give you the tools to succeed. They offer personalized marketing coaching if you have questions. Whenever I did have a question or problem, they immediately got back to me so I had no issues with customer service.

Drawbacks? Like self publishing, you’re on your own with the editing. I had a few people go through the manuscript, but I still missed one tiny thing that was too late to fix. You will not be in brick and mortar bookstores. You have to price your book pretty high – mine went for $11.50 – because if you sell through Amazon or discount sellers they take a high cut. The royalty on the Strategic site versus Amazon is pretty hefty, and most customers stick with Amazon. They have limited advertising – a facebook fan page and limited press release. Everything else is extra money.

With the advent of self publishing and indie books, there could have been a better alternative, but this was the right match for me. I wanted to see this book in print. I did not feel like spending days learning how to self publish or format a children’s book myself, especially with illustrations. The fee wasn’t hefty enough to be impossible – but it was enough to give me the incentive I need to go out and sell books to reap my money back. Then the rest is all gravy.

Marketing is key. With the amount of books available, we concentrated on the uniqueness of a young first time author taking the lead. We scheduled library book signings and interviews on various blogs. We sent books to review sites, used social networking tools, and read to pre-k classes. Because we both live in different cities, our fan base is spread out and more book sales can be completed. We placed an ad in the pennysaver and local papers for little cost.

For my niece, this experience has been priceless and well worth the effort. We have something we wrote together that can sell for many years down the line. The key is being smart with marketing – do a different event each month to keep your name out there. I always have giveaways ready for the kids, and birthdays and holidays I always suggest giving a book as a gift.
What I found most difficult on a personal level is the mingling of a children’s book with an erotic romance. They are on opposite sides of the camp, and I am using the same name. This presented a unique challenge but I felt strong about using my own name and building both platforms. I created a tagline A Little Bit Naughty…A Little Bit Nice…

I split my followers into mommy bloggers and romance writers/readers and made sure to comment and be a good friend to both camps. I belong to two separate groups in Linked In and Yahoo and built up my contacts. After all, romance authors have children. They buy children’s books. I believed it was possible to tap both markets.

I divided my marketing campaigns. I advertised and focused on my romance novels one month, and my children’s book the next. Cross sales will hopefully benefit my older titles, and my upcoming titles.
I am a firm believer in loving what you write. Some authors are born to be two different identities and write for different genres. I enjoy the challenge of building up my own name in all of my endeavors.

I currently have a short story regarding a dog I will be self-publishing in e-format soon, so that is another market I am venturing into.

Author Jennifer Probst
A writer must always grow, and feel challenged by the subject. The first motto an editor drilled into my brain was the following statement: “Write a great book.” The first motto an author drilled into my brain was the following statement: “Write the book of your heart.” By combining both of them with some savvy marketing techniques, I believe a writer can have it all.

Check out my website at: http://www.jenniferprobst.com
Check out my blog at: http://jenniferprobst.wordpress.com
Follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jenniferprobst
Visit me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Jennifer-Probst-Fan-Page/111073648957581
Visit my mommy blog at: http://4badmommies.com

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Author Elise Hepner on Learning from Your Editor

Hello Fellow Writers!

Please welcome multi-published erotica author Elise Hepner, who has some great stuff to say about the editing process!


Almost every writer comes to a new publisher with some kind of naiveté revolving around either their experience, how things will work, sales, etc. It could be anything in the world. But nothing is as it seems—and most of time, especially in my case, that’s a good thing.

When I first signed my contract with Ellora’s Cave for Party Games I was under the cocky impression that I had reached the big time so learning, psh, I didn’t need any more of that! Oh, how wrong I was, how very, very wrong. One of the lessons I learned at my wonderful editor’s hands was that a manuscript can always be picked over one more time, tightened, plucked and “ready-to-go” is simply an expression used when an author has done every bit of picking they can do without going in reverse and writing the whole manuscript all over again. Which, I’m sure, can happen.

But, man, did I learn a lot about myself in my writing—and a heck of a lot about grammar I hadn’t thought of since elementary school. Simple tweaks of moving one word from one part of the sentence to the other changed the landscape of my whole story. Could I have done that by myself? Not with my absolutely stubborn resolution for thinking my story was done, done, done. Having my editor there was like recruiting the world’s best Olympic coach for some super epic sport who just keep pushing for me to go harder, go bigger, or go home.

I can’t say I loved every minute of it. But now I look back on my baby published to Ellora’s Cave and I have a huge amount of pride and gratitude to my editor who encouraged me to make subtle changes that didn’t seem to make a difference. Now I know the differences and I can see them in action. They’ve also been put on my editing checklist for good—and there’s extra space for more awesome insights from my editor.

Because, now that I’m not clinging to some silly hope that my MS will get accepted, nothing will be changed, and it’ll just pop up for sale—well, I almost relish those changes. Why settle for silver when you could go for the gold? Just drop all expectations and go in with an open mind and you’ll be better for it. No one’s perfect. You hear it a lot, but when you get signed with your dream publisher little pieces of advice don’t seem to matter in the face of your accomplishment. Just remember to take a second, reign yourself back, and accept that this isn’t your last step.

This is only your first step in a long career of running over hurdles—and you’ll learn to love every minute of it.

Here's the Blurb for Elise's hot new release, Party Games:

William’s boring lovemaking leaves Catherine unsatisfied. Harboring fantasies she can’t put into words, she longs for a sexual voice but finds herself too stifled by her proper social upbringing.

When a blackout hits their resort hotel and William proposes a sexy version of hide-and-seek, playtime takes on a whole new salacious meaning. Charlotte’s mind races with sexual scenarios. But even her fantasies fail to compare to the titillating adventure her husband has planned for her—with the help of another man.

Soon everything she knows about lust will be irreversibly changed—and she’ll moan for more.

Reader Advisory: Contains scorching-hot M/M/F sexual scenarios, a woman giving orders on an erotic high and slight trickery.

Buy Party Games here!

Author Bio:
Elise Hepner lives with her spastic cat, two hyperactive ferrets and a very supportive, slightly crazy husband. There is never a dull moment in the house, unless the caffeine runs out, which it never does. She’s a multi-published erotica author in both e-books and print as well as a few websites. She’s driven by her tea addiction and a tiny stuffed turtle her husband picked up from Disney World that sits on her desk and “supervises” her work.

She has let loose her storytelling addiction that has hung around since birth, along with a deep need for organization, which helps her write. When not writing (which is rare), she’s watching countless hours of reality television, playing the Sims or shopping online. Plus there’s that odd obsession with the color purple. Everything is purple. Visit Elise at her blog, A Willing Writer’s Blog: Erotica 1.0, to keep up with her naughty ramblings, random tidbits and future work.

Elise Hepner's Links:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Free Reads as Promo

Hello Fellow Writers!

Today I'm at the group blog I belong to, Flirty Author Bitches, talking about the use of free reads as a promotional tool for authors.

I also give all the details about how I self-published my own free read, Overheated, as a way to say thank you to my readership.

Please come by and check it out!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Writing Sex Scenes

Hello Fellow Writers!

Today I'm on Romance Books R Us, blogging about the difference between an erotica sex scene and a steamy (but mainstream) sex scene. Please come by and leave a comment!


Monday, May 16, 2011

What inspired my latest Ellora's Cave novella?

Hello Fellow Writers!

I was thrilled when Diana from The Forbidden Bookshelf emailed to let me know she'd enjoyed my book Chastity Belt! Even better, she asked me to guest post on her blog about the whole tease-and-denial fetish that inspired the book. She'd posted a lovely review of Chastity Belt (read it here) and her blog is great, so how could I resist?

Come check out my guest post today on The Forbidden Bookshelf, and please leave a comment as I'll be checking in through out the day! Thanks!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Outline, Shmoutline

Hello Fellow Writers!

So my big challenge this month, for those of you haven't heard, is called May 50K. I'm writing a 50K word novel this month, ala NaNoWriMo. Anyone is welcome to join in the fun - visit me at the blog I set up just for this challenge at  http://may50k.blogspot.com.

I have a blurb and basic synopsis prepared that I'm sticking to for this story, since I know the elements in it appeal to a certain someone I'm hoping to sell the book to. But the outline I (attempted to) write for the book is hard to follow for me. I hate outlines. Things that work in an outline end up not working in the manuscript.

Recently my outline called for the heroine to fire the nanny. But the nanny was kinda cool and made a good case for herself, so she got to keep her job, in this draft anyway. And that's where the outline started to annoy me more than help me.

The writing is going great though. I'm 17K into this 50K word manuscript.

How about you? Do you use an outline to write, do you "pants" it, or do you do some mixture of the two like me?

Friday, May 6, 2011

My "amazeballs novella" :)

Today I'm on author Charlotte Stein's blog today! Please stop by and say hi  :)

This is how she started the blog post, LOL:

"So today my blog is going to be graced with the illustrious presence of Shoshanna Evers, who wrote the amazeballs novella, Ginger Snap. Which is about ginger figging. Yep - you heard that right. IT'S ABOUT GINGER FIGGING.
And if you don't know what that is, look it up, look it up NAO. Also: I love her."


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Inspires Me to Write

I'm at Black Velvet Seductions Reader's Blog today talking about how I get started with a new idea, and what inspired me to write Chastity Belt, my latest erotic romance from Ellora's Cave.

Stop by and say hi!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Writing a Book this Month

I probably won't be blogging too much this month, since I'm trying to write an entire book in May, in the spirit of NaNoWriMo.

I'm commenting everyday on the the blog I set up for the project if you want to join me!

So far it's going really well. I've written the first two chapters in only 2 days! :)

All I'm reading this month are books by the publisher I'm targeting. It's all sooper sekrit right now ;)